With thumping bass lines, catchy drumbeats and bright synths, Grass Bat is swooping up a new era of ‘80s-fueled indie pop through his latest single, “Mistake.”
Released in November, the glistening four-minute track explodes with refreshing synth pop sensibilities reminiscent of The Human League mixed with the experimental psychedelic electro rock of MGMT and Animal Collective.
“For some time now, even in my previous band, the reviews I had gotten were ‘You sound very ‘80s,’ and I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of ‘80s music,” said Noel Herbert, aka Grass Bat. “It was something was that never really piqued my interest at the time, and I kept on getting this review. I was like, ‘If this is what I’m going to sound like, then I might as well go all out.’”
While writing and recording “Mistake,” Herbert quickly absorbed ‘80s pop rock and adapted the song’s melodies, structure and synths to recreate the era’s sound with a modern flair. It also features Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter on guitar and Kayo Musiq on bass.
“Part of it being modern is the structure of the song, there’s an intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge and a double chorus at the end,” said Herbert, who grew up playing piano and guitar and was inspired by Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Joan Baez and Celtic folk music. “Part of the reason I did that was for sync licensing, it makes it easier if the song is ever going to get played in a commercial or on a TV show.”
For Herbert, the song’s lyrics take on a personal meaning about a past failed relationship and allow him to process the whole situation. They’re written through self-awareness and his internal experience of the outside world.
“I wasn’t sure what the song was about when I first wrote it. It wasn’t until probably a month ago that I was listening to it, and it finally clicked in my head where it came from,” he said. “It can be interpreted in so many different ways. It’s so important that each person interprets it in their own way, and that they can have their own feelings toward it.”
Originally hailing from the Motor City, Herbert relocated to Los Angeles in September to pursue music, songwriting and film/game composition after graduating from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) and Falmouth University with a bachelor’s degree in creative songwriting.
As Grass Bat, Herbert encompasses free-flowing thoughts from the human consciousness and transmits them into colorful, flavorful frequencies that get stuck inside a listener’s mind.
While flying high above the digital musical jungle, he releases his ever-growing emotional ecosystem in the form of experimental indie electronica echo. Herbert self-records and produces his Grass Bat project with a mixture of synthesized sounds and live instrumentation.
Earlier this year, Herbert released his debut single, “Cigarette Showers,” a grungy indie ‘80s pop lo-fi tune filled with echoing vocals, vibrant guitars and gleaming synths. He co-wrote the single with DIME classmate Josh Cowdrey after composing some initial chords on an acoustic guitar.
“I was totally stuck, so I invited him to come help me out, and we ended up writing the song,” Herbert said. “It’s supposed to be very abstract and artistic-like. I can definitely say we smoked a lot of cigarettes while writing that song.”
“Cigarette Showers” also features an Easter egg in the form of a wrong note. Herbert intentionally left in the wrong note to give the song a realistic, memorable edge.
“It’s something I want to keep consistent in my music, it’s something that’s not really noticeable, but I’ll notice it, or if someone’s a trained musician, then they’ll probably notice it, too,” he said. “I feel like the goal is to be perfectly imperfect.”
As for his next project, Herbert is planning to release either a single or two-song EP called “Desert Rain” in the next two months., “Desert Rain” will feature an ‘80s-inspired sound with arpeggiators and digital synthesizers.
“It’s supposed to go through as an experience, it’s more about imagery and to engulf the person in the story rather than telling the story itself,” Herbert said. “It would be a concept EP, that’s my hope for it.”